Opening Up About HIV Status

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In the Toro Parish, Stacey, at 18 years, is 6 months pregnant with her first child. She married her husband, who is now 20, in 2016. At such a young age, Stacey is unsure as to whether he loves her. She lives with two other co-wives, who both treat her well and see her as a daughter.

Two months into her pregnancy, Stacey came to the health clinic for her antenatal check-up. During the work-up, she was tested positive for HIV. Confused and devastated, Stacey did not know what her diagnosis entailed. However, the midwife, seeing that Stacey was so young, took her under special counseling after she thoroughly explained the disease, started her on ARV, and informed that the baby would need to be delivered through a C-section to prevent possible maternal complications and HIV transmission. Additionally, Stacey’s midwife would call her periodically to check-in on her health, and also advised her to ease any worries.

After Stacey found out about her HIV status, she told her husband, who didn’t react to the news. Until that day, he had remained silent about his HIV diagnosis, making it very difficult for Stacey to facilitate any conversation. According to Stacey, they don’t discuss about this subject.

When Stacey found out about GWED-G through the other beneficiaries in her village, she immediately asked for enrollment. Under the maternal health program, Stacey finds the support that she didn’t know she would need. The VHT, midwife, and community of mothers in similar circumstances all allow space for an open dialogue. Stacey is now able to speak to other mothers in seeking for guidance, and her midwife and VHT remain reliable resources when it comes to health issues.